I've used different sites in the network and have found their communities to feel quite different.

  • Stack Overflow can feel overwhelmed with the number of questions (especially bad ones) being asked but does seem to be willing to help.
  • Code Review I have always felt to be very welcoming and friendly.

But at times I have found The Workplace to be quite unhelpful and unsympathetic, e.g. answers alone the lines of "Do exactly as you are told" or "That's none of your concern".

While I do appreciate that there are a lot of questions that are poorly written or off topic and that the people who ask them never read the help, all the sites on the network have the same problem.

What is your impression of The Workplace?



  • 1
    Does this have anything to do with the number of closed questions on the site?
    – Jim G.
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 4:26
  • 1
    @JimG. I can't see closed questions so I can't judge them, but not specifically no. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 10:18
  • 8
    "at times I have found The Workplace to be quite unhelpful and unsympathetic" - I think at times this is true, although I believe the vast majority of answers are indeed helpful. "Sympathetic" is a bit harder to judge. Often people who ask questions at The Workplace really just want to vent. Sometimes, those sorts of questions do get less sympathy. Perhaps you could add a few examples where you think the responses weren't as helpful and/or sympathetic as you would have hoped? Examples are often a powerful way of communication an impression. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 10:59
  • 5
    My take is that someone has had to come to random strangers on the internet for advice, I would have thought that would be to get an unbiased opinion not for some sympathy. When I answer a question I can only judge on what and how was asked, so I try and be as plain spoken over my advice. I get short when I see a venting question that just ends in "what do I do?", they need to make some suggestion, even if it's "I thought I could do x, but I think it's a bad idea because..." we can get a discussion going, and tweak answers. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 11:26
  • 8
    Just a note, too, if you (or anyone else) sees things you find hostile/not helpful use the flag feature. Workplace gets a lot of content and there is no way us mere mortal moderators can see everything.
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 12:49
  • I find it ironic that the answer you show as an example is a much downvoted one. Do you happen to remember if it was as ill-received before you linked it here?
    – rath
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 18:58
  • @rath No it wasn't, that question was fairly new at the time and there hadn't been much voting either way. Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 19:00
  • 1
    By means of reference ... it can be a tough crow ... meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/3561/…
    – jimm101
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 19:34
  • Note that much of this is inherent in SE design decisions, and arguably could be taken to the top level Meta... Except that I think they have already decided not to do anything.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 14:25
  • One thing I do notice is that there's a lot of talk that would normally be edited out or users even banned for on other SE networks. I'm posting a comment because I don't feel like digging up the references, but I've seen a lot of answers that make statements like "suck it up". I think people in this age are overly sensitive to begin with, but I'm just pointing out that comments or answers with such a tone would at the very least be downvoted into oblivion on other network sites.
    – user41761
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 1:35
  • 3
    I have commented this elsewhere recently, and would post it here again since it is relevant. One aspect I find unwelcoming is the unwritten requirement to please the American majority. Far too often, you come across questions which clearly state "I am from so-and-so country and here is my issue ..." only for the (highly upvoted) answers to brush it aside entirely with "Here in the US, this is what you should do." usually followed by a "holier than thou" explanation of why they think the issue is better handled in the US. I have reduced my participation on this site for this reason.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 13:12

8 Answers 8


They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind

My experience is that the user experience on this site, more than on others, depends on how a user approaches it. Overwhelmingly, users that actively participate in the site, at least while their question is active, are treated kindly and with respect, provided they do the same. Indignant responses or refusal to work with the Q&A framework are good ways to have a question closed and downvoted and to be treated curtly in return. Many first-timers post their question and never return to the site and those questions are handled quickly and curtly.

By contrast, many users here are welcoming of first-time posters with legitimate questions, even if those questions are off-topic. When a question is unclear or not appropriate for our site, the OP usually has those guidelines explained in comments. We look into ways of recovering the core question if possible or point him to other resources (chat, the web, colleagues or managers) if that's not an option.

I personally try to make an effort to assume good faith and help people out when I can. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to relieve someone's anxiety or uncertainty and legitimately help someone's professional growth. In the 20 months that I've been here I've reached the Top 20 reputation list but all those internet points are meaningless compared to the rewarding feeling of having someone commenting with a heart-felt thank you and the knowledge that you made a difference. There aren't many sites where that is possible (the Parenting SE is probably similar). I'd wager that most of our active users take the same stance and while some can be direct or concise, I haven't seen any evidence of a trend of hostile behaviour towards new users. We have had a few instances of questions being mistreated in the past, but those are typically discussed on meta and resolved quickly.

So in short, The Workplace is perfectly kind and welcoming to users that approach the site in good faith.

It's interesting that I knew which post prompted you to ask this question when I read the title. With regards to that specific example, the user in question has provided valuable answers here in the past, as shown by his reputation history. He often answers very directly and concisely and sometimes speaks to hard truths. While that can come across as unwelcoming or unfriendly and while I disagree with his advice and tone on that particular answer, it doesn't indicate a trend or problem to me. You are free to downvote answers that you don't find useful.

  • 11
    "The Workplace is perfectly kind and welcoming to users that approach the site in good faith" - while I think that's generally true for experienced users, I'm not sure newbies are always treated in a kind and welcoming way. I see cases where they seemingly are expected to know the "unwritten rules" of the site. "Many first-timers post their question and never return to the site and those questions are handled quickly and curtly." - I suspect some of these first-timers never return due to the way they were handled (quickly and curtly). I think we are mostly good, but we can do better. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 0:03
  • 2
    @JoeStrazzere We have to be realistic here: the vast majority of first-time posters never seem to return to the site to clarify their actual question, and that's not because of the reception they get but because they're posting to vent or can't figure out the SE model or login system. Yes, SE's login and account management is abysmal, but that's a systemic problem. I can't personally hand-hold every question posted and part of the SE model is that good questions are rewarded and bad ones are punished (with downvotes/closevotes). I offer considerably more leeway to users here....
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:10
  • ...especially to first-timers, as compared to on other sites like SO, but there are only so many hours in the day. Any user that has a legitimate problem and takes the time to write it down here and is interested in actually seeing answers is helped on this site, even if the question is off-topic. I don't feel that we should do more than this and I also don't see how we could without encouraging the broken windows problem.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:11
  • 2
    We don't really know why many first-timers never return. You may be right that they are simply venting or don't like the SE model or login. (I wonder how our one-and-done record compares to other SE sites?) Or you may be wrong and they have decided that Workplace is too unwelcoming to be bothered with. I'm sure you would agree that focusing on "the broken window problem" sometimes leads us to be less welcoming than we could otherwise be, Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:26
  • 4
    There is, IMO, a bit of an attitude towards new users that can be summed of as "If you have a problem, it's your fault, and if you don't like it, leave". If there is a flood of "one and done" posts/users, then I think it would be wise to discuss all the possible reasons why, and not just dismiss it as a problem with users. My own early experiences were quite negative, and I almost said "to hell with it" for the entire group of stack sites. While I'm not advocating for any site to become coddling, I do believe that we can be far more welcoming to new users Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 13:25
  • 3
    Yay, don't mind me, I'm just a noob just watching the discussion, but sometimes I have to agree with the OP, IMHO all StackExchange sites have their level of rudeness, especially StackOverflow and TheWorkPlace, sometimes they make me feel like I should know the secret rules that are never shared
    – Kyle
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 21:05
  • 2
    @Mr.Derpinthoughton Keep in mind that those "secret rules" are all explained in the help center. The main problem with SE's framework is that they aren't made as explicit and obvious as they perhaps should be.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 21:19
  • 3
    @Lilienthal Kinda my point as well. It takes a bit to learn what the rules and what the REAL rules are around here. Gotta agree with Mr.Derpinthoughton that SO and TWP are the rudest, and criticism with regards to the general attitude towards new users is pretty much ignored. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 21:43
  • 1
    @RichardU I'd disagree but I've covered most of what I'd say in response in my answer here. In the end we don't have a set standard for how a user should be treated and it's left to each user's discretion how helpful or "rude" he is when dealing with poor questions. In my time here I've yet to see truly malicious behaviour towards new users and the balance we strike between being helpful and direct seems fine to me.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 7:31
  • 1
    @Lilienthal There is nothing wrong with direct, and I've said as much about Kilisi. All I'm saying is that if you keep hearing the same complaint, don't dismiss it out of hand. Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 13:07
  • 1
    How many of us even bother looking at who the question is from? I don't, unless it is spectacularly good or bad... I suspect that it's less a matter of us singling out newbies than not giving them extra room to make beginner mistakes. I sorta count on the admins stepping in to do that...
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:59
  • 2
    @keshlam I always check the username/rep when voting to close because I also usually leave a comment to explain. I'll typically make a judgement call to see if more than a basic explanation is required and that usually depends on whether I'm dealing with a new user, how emotional the question is and whether it can be improved to be on-topic. That's about as much as anyone can realistically do in my opinion. But I'm not sure what you're expecting the mods to do? Keep in mind that their responsibilities are rather limited. They do important work but a site has to be run by the community.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 12:32
  • 1
    I'm not really expecting the mods to do more, but I'd like to see SE take this more seriously at the system design level, at least improving the boilerplate messages. And it might be with finding a way to remind the rest of us periodically that most bad posts arise from misunderstanding both the workplace and The Workplace rather than deliberate contrariness.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 14:30
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere I think you're right. I used to lurk on workplace a lot until I asked a question, which was imo borderline on topic. It got deemed off-topic, even though it had a great response that I can't accept now and lots of down votes. And every time I look here there's more closed than open questions. I honestly don't know why I even bother looking anymore. Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 15:28
  • 1
    I've been around for a little while but not all too long. I find that the community is not nearly as light hearted than in other places. Questions tend to get put to off-topic incredibly fast, even when a proper answer could be given. This quite often feel as if a banhammer has been thrown at them. It's very intimidating to even start asking a question. This was the case for me too, While I'm happy with the many answers I received. I certainly noticed the difference between the workplace and other places. While I've seen a few uplifting comments, if feels as though they are discouraged...
    – Migz
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:15

Oh, I just realised it was me... well, I tend to just speak my mind, whether it's a newbie or not actually. I don't really pay much attention to peoples reputation scores. I also tend to get a lot of downvotes, in this case I got 8 downvotes.

But my motivation is to help, if I judge that this means someone needs a quick kick in the pants, then I take aim. I wish I'd received some straight advice and a gentle nudge back in my youth more than once. And my style provides a contrast to others which often gives a different viewpoint that may (or may not) be useful to some.

Sorry if I don't come across as welcoming, and I appreciate the heads up, I'll take it into account before answering future questions (no promises though, I'd still give the same answer to this question if it came in again) :-)

  • 4
    You're not exactly known for your warm fuzzies, no. That said, while I often disagree with your advice and tone, you're hardly the problem here. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 12:13

The workplace is a little unusual in that people can come here for vindication and to be proven right, even when they are wrong. We get a lot of

How can a genius like me deal with the utter morons that surround me? How do I tell my boss he's utterly wrong?

Sometimes the answer is

You're not that right

Or even

This isn't a question

And this is seen as unwelcoming. I suppose it even is. But I don't want to welcome that sort of "please clap" material anyway, so I don't consider the current situation broken. That doesn't mean it's ok to be rude while telling something they are "not that right", but it doesn't mean we have to find a place for every "question" everybody composes.

  • I have to endorse this. We don't know all the details, only the asker's perceptions. I know of a case on another system where it turned out that the individual was completely in denial about a situation, but write week enough that strangers has no way of knowing this and gave advice that reinforced his delusions -- and I'm not using that word lightly. Be very careful about unconditional validation, and try to offer advice that won't get the querant into trouble if they are misunderstanding what's going on.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 20:32

Is the workplace unwelcoming? I would say yes, it is unwelcoming.

Why do I think that? Partly because of the nature of some of the answers. Alongside the ones highlighted by the OP, there are the "quit your job" answers.

In terms of questions being closed, my first question was closed as off-topic, despite having up votes and a discussion in the comments about whether it was on topic or not. I was tempted to leave the site after that point. The "real questions have answers" auto message was particularly off putting, seeing as the question has 9 answers.


Oh, and I also love downvotes without comments. Very welcoming ;-)

  • 'Real questions have answers" is a rather telegraphic reference to a policy that's used across all of Stack Exchange. If you followed the link you'd have gotten an explanation of why this question was deemed to be in need of improvement.... But it may be unreasonable of SE to expect newcomers to realize that the deeper explanation is available.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 11:54
  • Downvote without comments is also a SE-wide issue. Unfortunately, that is a designed-in option and unlikely to change.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 14:23
  • 1
    I too find the "real questions have answers" wording to be very rude, although I don't know what wording could be better.
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 16:57
  • I don't like the "real questions have answers" wording either. It's snide. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:55

I'm gonna go against typical advice here and necro-post to emphasize a point: I left TWP around the time this topic came up because it was noticeably hostile, and I wasn't even a new SE user.

I am (provisionally) back now that there is a focus on "being welcoming". Maybe I'm the only one, but I think not.

If more people than myself took these actions, then I think that speaks for itself.


My impression is rather negative. I find The Workplace is a very unwelcomming place. Many other communities at least try to give you some feedback about what is wrong with your question and how you can or should improve it. Not here. There are many of them with several downvotes and not a single comment what is wrong with them. This is a very weird practice.

Other communities use votes to express whether a question is well written and or contains enough information to be answered. Not here. On The Workplace people seem to use the voting system like it's used on meta, this is to express their approval for an idea or question. It doesn't metter that it's clear. If someone doesn't like it then it gets downvoted. You can post a perfectly clear question and yet you'll get a lot of downvotes only because people don't like the topic or idea you're asking about.

  • 1
    This is a bit the bane of more subjective SE sites. Questions here can stray into disagreeable topics and will be downvoted due to that.
    – Magisch
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 10:55
  • @Magisch then there should be put more effort in educating people that voting is for expressing the quality of questions and answers and not about (dis)liking the idea/topic :-|
    – red-shield
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 12:15
  • As a contributor, you're totally allowed to vote for any reason you want unless you're serially voting for one user. "I don't like the premise of this, downvote" is an entirely legitimate voting strategy.
    – Magisch
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 12:17
  • On this same topic, after reading comments , answers often are seemingly upvoted because they feel “righteous” instead of being in the readers best interest. Things like telling your boss off or burning bridges seems very popular while ignoring the effect on a real persons livelihood and family, etc
    – user30031
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 18:01

It tends to vary. I think that the powers that be close questions that should not be closed, that the term "duplicate" has been loosened to mean "Vaguely reminiscent of" and various questions being labeled as company specific being done so due to the fact that the poster is foreign and does not phrase things in the best of English. Anyone who posts in a vaguely frustrated tone gets dismissed as ranting, et cetera.

No, it's not very welcoming, and any difficulties are dismissed as users not reading the guidelines or simply ignoring them.

It's a confusing format until you get the hang of it. While many folks are welcoming, the experience for many is akin to being greeted with all the geniality of Motor Vehicles, the compassion of the IRS, and the clarity of US banking regulations.

Another one marked as "duplicate" because "even though the question is different, the answer is the same"

what is the " keep in touch" mean at the end of interview?

  • jmort253 and jmac were rock stars in the sense that when they were moderators and they were actively engaged, they were extremely welcoming to new users.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 18:32
  • 2
    Whole heartedly agree regarding duplicates. Duplicate votes are often based entirely on question title rather than content. IMO as soon as a question has one over zealous close vote on it, it's doomed.
    – Myles
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 13:46
  • 1
    Huh? You're arguing that those two questions aren't duplicates?
    – Jim G.
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 23:11
  • 3
    One is an "at the end of a phone screen" scenario. The other is an "after my application was rejected" scenario. To me they aren't the same. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 9:59
  • 1
    @JimG. are you saying that there is no difference between being rejected and not being rejected Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 12:10
  • 1
    Hold on, we got your back +1, this being a meta website, you shouldn't have gotten so many downvotes for expressing your opinion, even if it's wrong (it's not), you're just trying to help, this is ironically what you were talking about in your comment on Lilienthal's answer
    – Kyle
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 21:15
  • Note that downvote on Meta don't count against your overall score.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 18:27

There are some users who seem to have a chip on their shoulders and use this site to make themselves feel superior by belittling people asking questions. It happens, we flag, then get told that yes the answer is not good but it is not something a moderator can take action on. That is total BS but whatever. Sadly other people reward these jerks with up-votes, which just encourages them to continue their actions.

The thing to realize is that the OP did get a several good answers. To combat this flag it. Do not worry about the mods saying no to your flags if they get a avalanche of flags about a post they are more likely take action that in just one or two of the most flag happy(I suspect I am #1 there) people flag it. If you want to give the mods an incentive to take the "Play Nice Policy" seriously we need to show them we want them to take it seriously. So flag early flag often.

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